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Film Review

Ganelin Trio Priority: Live at the Lithuanian National Philharmony Vilnius 2005

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Ganelin Trio Priority
Live at the Lithuanian National Philharmony Vilnius 2005
Nemu Records
2007



Pianist Vyacheslav Ganelin is arguably Soviet Russia's most significant improvising export. Of course, the unreceptive atmosphere during the early part of his career made renown in his native Lithuania untenable, but fans of international free jazz are very much familiar with his long- standing trio.

This DVD, the first such release by the new-ish Euro-jazz label run by drummer Klaus Kugel, presents Ganelin in concert from 2005 at the Lithuanian National Philharmony in Vilnius. There is some irony that Ganelin is seen playing in a massive concert hall now, an icon years after he left his native country. Joining him are Kugel and fellow Lithuanian Petras Vysniauskas on alto and soprano saxophones for three pieces, the first two over 30 minutes and the third an 11-minute coda.

This is mature and elegant free improvisation. The first piece, "Conversation 1, is a little too dense to be called "atmospheric," though the mood evokes the ethereal and tranquil. "Conversation 2," though only six minutes longer at just under 40 minutes, is a lot more varied, ranging from broad incendiary drama to introspective and meticulously observed, almost insectile, moments. The final "Homage to Friends," in a third of the time, encapsulates all of what came before.

Visually, the sheer number of cameras enable the filming crew to make the event remarkably immediate. Every conceivable angle is covered, including a repeated overhead shot of Ganelin inside and outside the piano, on synth and even percussion. If a slight complaint is permitted, it's that the audio is too good. It could not have sounded like this in the audience so the live aspect is diminished. More shots from the audience' point of view and a less pristine and balanced studio-quality sound might have felt more authentic, but that said, this is a valuable and well-executed document.


Tracks: Conversation I; Conversation II; Homage to Friends

Personnel: Vyacheslav Ganelin: piano, synthesizer, percussion; Petras Vysniauskas: soprano saxophone; Klaus Kugel: drums, percussion

Production Notes: 97 minutes. Recorded May 27, 2005 at Lithuanian National Philharmony Vilnius.


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